Name: Graham Kingston
Job title: Managing Director
Company: Pecan Deluxe Candy Europe Ltd
Twitter url: @PecanDeluxeEMEA
Linkedin url: https://www.linkedin.com/company/pecan-deluxe-candy-company/
Tell us about your job/company/role?
I have the best job. I lead a team of very talented individuals, allowing them the freedom to operate, create, manage, action, investigate, innovate, communicate, solve, imagine, and deliver - it’s my job to give them the tools to do this in a safe sustainable and fun culture.
Ultimately keeping the team motivated and happy enables the business to deliver extraordinary results both from a financial performance and from a personal development perspective.
I also have a responsibility to the business to ensure everyone is working on the right things and that doesn’t just mean the here and now, but looking into consumer trends over the next 5-10 years. This means that as a business we will not only be able to deliver the right solutions for our customers now but also lead the market and help create trends into the future. Ultimately the best way to describe my job is to create a great environment and culture! As a family business which we have been for three generations (since 1950) I have a responsibility to ensure that the family culture is felt by all our customers, employees and suppliers.
In today’s very corporate world our owner Jay Brigham wants to make sure that our global business is not just professionally run but that it operates with the integrity and ethics his family name is known for.
Oh yes… and the products we innovate and make - just the best!
Be prepared for your mind to be blown. If you manage to be involved in this industry consider yourself blessed.
What drew you to working in the confectionery industry? (Apart from the free chocolate!)
What a question, what is there not to like about it? It’s very emotive, very personal, and bespoke. We are developing products that work across the food spectrum using ingredients that are changing day by day, and across a global market where two bordered countries can mean the difference between consumers liking a product or not. We see this all across Europe and Asia where products that work in one country are completely wrong for a neighbouring country. Working in this industry right now is one of the most exciting places to work outside of the technology industry.
In my current role I was attracted to working with the owner of the business who has allowed us to create something special here at Pecan Deluxe Candy Europe.
What do you love most about your job?
Every day is different and it’s difficult to say what stands out most of all but I will give you three examples of the things that make it the best job in the world.
1. Watching people be the best they can be: I’ve had the pleasure of being part of one of our shop floor operators become an NPD Manager. There are numerous examples of people development in Pecan Deluxe and I take immense pride in creating the environment where employees can be the best of themselves.
2. Watching an innovative new product come to fruition and it flying off the shelves. We have had an amazing new project come to fruition recently with a launch for a major restaurant chain in Germany. The work to get to that launch goes back at least five years and watching it fly out of their stores was something special.
3. Interacting with our customers and suppliers has always been something I love. We are very fortunate to deal with some genuinely fabulous people and we believe in all helping each other to be successful. Ultimately you reap what you sow but you must sow first.
What do you dislike most about your job?
I don’t dislike my job. The good and the bad equally help you grow into a better, wiser version of yourself as long as you learn from every experience.
The fact is that every job has its challenges and it’s important that the downsides are all part of it but it’s also important to celebrate the wins and the good things that happen daily.
Right now we are in the midst of Brexit which is an external factor I have no control over, so as a result we are concentrating on the things we do have control over - it’s just another challenge that the business will turn to its advantage.
What is your biggest creative achievement so far?
Easy: building winning teams both here and in Asia. Very proud of them.
Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?
I am genuinely happy with my lot. Professionally I have ambitions within my current role within Pecan Deluxe Candy. Other than that I just want to continue to be respected as part of the wider global Pecan Deluxe business and continue to create the environment for people to enjoy their work and succeed within their jobs.
Personally, just to be healthy. I am very fortunate I have two amazing kids, great friends and a very supportive girlfriend. Being in that same position in five years’ time I would consider myself lucky.
Describe a typical work day.
Every day is very different and my role has evolved as the needs of the business have changed. However generally if I’m in the UK it would typically start around 5am working on Asia activities due to the time difference, then I visit the Leeds factory which has just gone through a huge transformation and make sure everything is working as it should be. I then go into the head office which isn’t far from the factory and start my day working on European activities where I try to make sure my interactions with the various teams are inspirational, enthusiastic and fun. Much more of my role has become strategic as the market is changing so rapidly and I have the freedom to think outside of the day to day projects.
From around 2pm the US head office is awake and we have various online/conference meetings throughout the week to make sure we are all aligned and communicate the things that make a difference.
In my position my phone is always on but I am lucky in that I love my job and it’s part of me, so if someone is ringing outside of UK regular working hours it’s because they have a real need to talk and I’m fine with that.
What do you do enjoy doing outside of work?
Squash, running, playing the guitar. I’m a foodie - so restaurants are a big part of my life. Live theatre & my kids. I have a passion for travelling and enjoy going off the beaten track. Leeds Rhinos are also a huge part of my life. Rugby League is such a great sport and whether my team win or lose it’s always a great spectator sport.
What do you think will be the next big thing in the confectionery world?
If I told you that I’d be giving away a huge secret but natural ingredients and sugar replacement are all pretty much up there and happening now. Our place in that next big thing will be seen in time.
Apple or Android?
Android every time, I’ve had both and both have their great selling points but the android platform for me is so much easier to use.
What is your favourite book or podcast?
‘I am Pilgrim’ by Terry Hayes. An exceptional piece of writing.
Where do you stand on social media – can’t live without it, or an evil necessity?
Just a part of everyday life now. Trick is to utilise it in such a way that it doesn’t take over and works for you. That said, it bothers me how a text always seems to be more important than the person standing in front of you, that is just rude!
If you could change one thing in the confectionery industry, what would it be?
I think there has been a huge consolidation in the supply chain/raw materials which isn’t good for the industry, so if I could change anything it would be to have more independent suppliers.
What’s the biggest misconception about working in confectionery?
That we all sit around eating confectionery every day…although it does happen in some departments but that’s part of their job.
What advice would you give to other people looking to get into the confectionery industry?
Be prepared for your mind to be blown. If you manage to be involved in this industry consider yourself blessed. It’s vibrant, innovative, dynamic, and engaging and changing every day. Just a great place to spend your working life.
Time’s up! Thank you Graham.
CREATIVE CONVERSATIONS is Confectionery News’s new online series profiling influential people working in the confectionery industry. We want to discover what makes you tick and to inspire others to follow your path.
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